Derzhavin and the Treaty of Tilsit
Derzhavin’s ode to the Treaty of Tilsit of 1807 differs markedly from earlier poems that celebrated peace treaties in line with Russia’s long history of military glory. The Treaty of Tilsit, however, did not terminate a war that Russia had won, but one it had lost. The criticism of Tsar Aleksandr I’s policies implied in Derzhavin’s poem reflected a strong mood of political opposition not only in the general population, but also at court. The same mood is expressed in Derzhavin’s poetic paraphrases from the psalter written in 1807: under the given circumstances the biblical wording of these poems could be—and was—read as a commentary on the life in Russia in the wake of the Treaty of Tilsit.